Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saving the Planet...with Sexy Style

Does global warming have you all hot and bothered and stressed out? Wish you could get some relief without feeling guilty about adding to the problem?

Now you can! The world's first environmentally friendly vibrator, Earth Angel, is now available. Made from recycled materials it uses no batteries but is a wind up vibrator. Testers say it can be "very intense" and you might not be able to handle the highest setting. Four minutes of winding yields 30 minutes of vibrating (which is a ratio that should beat what you get from men!)

That's Annoying

Music that is. I was just reminded of the Annoying Music Show, a production from Chicago Public Radio featuring music that makes the Chipmunks look like positively mainstream pop. You can listen to it for free online...if you dare!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My First Green Flash Pictures

I have wanted to get a picture of a green flash for a while and finally got it! I was on a cruise this week and managed to get the image near sunset on December 16th.

Many of you have probably heard of the legendary green flash and wondered how it works. Andrew Young at San Diego State University has a page with lots of info and pictures, but I will break it down for you here. Sunlight is composed of all visible colors. Earth's atmosphere acts like a prism and bends shorter wavelength light (violet, blue, green) more than the long wavelength light (yellow, orange red). When viewed near the horizon, the top of the Sun contains the blues and greens and the bottom of the Sun contains the oranges and reds.

As the Sun sets, it passes through layers of airs with different temperatures. Different temperatures will bend the light different amounts and can make the Sun appear very distorted. You can see this pretty dramatically below (as always, click any image to embiggen).

Note how the Sun is distinctly not round and it appears a little piece of it is about to break off at the top. That piece will break off and form a little flash of light. Actually, I got two of them. Both of the flashes started out yellow and turned green as the got farther from the Sun. Yes, you can get more than one green flash from a Sunset. This sunset had at least three that I managed to record.

I put those four images together in a short animation which is on Youtube. I don't think the colors were preserved nicely in the video conversion process, but you can see the progression of the flash nicely.

And then there was a little break when until the last little bit of the Sun disappeared below the horizon and then I got on more.

You might think that the flash should be blue or purple, but the atmosphere scatters short wavelength light so effectively that most of the time the last bit you can see is green. However, people have seen and photographed blue flashes as well.

If you have never seen a green flash and don't live near the water, don't despair. You don't need water to see them (although it is a good place). I have seen them many times from Kitt Peak and even from Fermilab in Illinois (looking west there is no water for a long way!) Part of the key is to get above ground. You get a much better view if you are up even a few stories. Look closely as the effect is subtle.

If you want to try and photograph them, you won't have much luck with a point and shoot digital camera. You need to be able to play with exposure times and have a pretty good zoom lens. I used a Canon Digital Rebel XTi with a 55-250mm image stabilized zoom lens (cranked all the way to 250mm!) Anything less than 150mm and you are probably dead in the water. You also have to keep adjusting exposure times if you are shooting in manual mode like I was. The lighting changes very rapidly in the minutes leading up to sunset.

You can see green flashes at sunrise as well, but it is more difficult since you have to be looking right when the Sun comes above the horizon and the timing of that can be difficult.

Now that I got my first one, I am looking forward to trying some more.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Four for Fridays

Hello everybody! Got some more Christmas stuff for you!

1) What is your favorite holiday treat?

2) What is your favorite holiday song?

3) What is your favorite holiday tradition?

4) What is your favorite holiday meal?

Enjoy your weekend folks!

Cheeky Christmas

Have a Cheeky Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


From the Journal Times:

"RACINE - Former mayor Gary Becker is no longer expected to go to trial for allegedly going to a mall to meet a teenage girl for sex.

"According to online court records, Becker, who was due in court Thursday for a motion hearing, will instead appear in court next week to enter a plea to at least some of the charges against him. Thursday's hearing was canceled."

They've cut a deal. Nieskes is staying mum. I think I'm going to gag.

You know he's walking. Slap on the wrist. Worst Christmas present ever for the decent people of Racine, Wisconsin.


Árbol de Piedra - Bolivia
Bárdenas Reales - Navarra - Spain

Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods Colorado, USA
Boulders - South Island - New Zealand

Brimham Rock - England, UK
Bryce Canyon National Park - Utah, USA

Delicate Arch - Utah, USA
Pinnacles desert - Nambung National Park - Western Australia
1) Link to homepage-
2) Link to photo page

Devils Tower - Wyoming, USA
Geiser Black Rock Desert - Nevada, USA

Goreme Valley Fairy Chimneys - Turkey
James Bond Island - Thailand

Karlu Karlu or Devil's Marbles - Northern Territory - Australia
Krishna's Butterball - India

Landscape Arch - Utah, USA
Los Roques - Tenerife

Maltese Cross Rock - South Africa
Montserrat - Catalonia

Mushroom Rock - Kansas, USA
Nanya Rock - Taiwan, China

Palo Duro Canyon - Texas, USA
Perce Rock - Canada

Piedra movediza del Tandil - Argentina
Port Campbell - Australia

Prekestolen - Norway
The Cheesewring - UK

Spider Rock, Chelly Canyon - Arizona, USA
The Externsteine - Germany

The Giant's Causeway - Northern Ireland, UK
The Wave - Arizona, USA

Torcal de Antequera - Andalusia
Uluru, Ayers Rock - Australia

Wadi Rum - Jordania
Wave Rock - Western Australia

Thought of the Day

Fact of Life:

After Monday and Tuesday

even the calendar says W T F

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my frigid fruit cups! How are you? Didn’t winter arrive with a thud this year? It seems like one day it was in the 50’s, and the next day there was frost and ice everywhere. At least Racine avoided the brunt of that brutal storm that blew in from the east last week. Thank you, Mother N., for sparing us. It would seem fair to me that we should have a warm winter after having endured such a cool summer. Of course, that’s just my humble opinion, Mother N.

Our superlative and elegant Packers did it again, mauling the Bears for the second time this season. Now the Steelers lie ahead. They’re on a losing streak and we’re on a winning streak. I’m already at work on a charm to keep it that way, a magnetic one that should stick to the ignoble defending champions like the smell of defeat. Ooh, I get excited talking about the Packers and sports and sweat. Pardon me.

I received an emailed missive last week from the scholarly and professorial Mr. Hale-Bopp. It was entitled, “Are You Abusing Your Power?”

Dear Madame Zoltar,

I fear this guys vs girls blogging contest is getting out of control. I have been trying to post a blog and kept getting errors and fear that you are using your powers to thwart the guys from posting the blogs that we are inspired to write.

I hope I am mistaken and this is just an unfortunate coincidence, but you do show some competitive fight when you start talking about your rival psychics.

Let's keep it clean!


Oh my, Mr. Hale-Bopp, I would never use my powers for wrong. That would be, well, wrong. But, is it wrong to grant a smidgen of help to a gender which has been historically oppressed, often enslaved, since the dawn of man? How could it be wrong to lend a hand to some of your dear and loving JT Irregular friends? Can it be so wrong to assist in a fight that is so right?

No, Mr. Hale-Bopp, I am not abusing my powers or playing dirty. I’m just doing what men have done for millennia: I’m taking care of business. As the other psychics that you mentioned have learned, Madame Zoltar does not stand down from a challenge and will do whatever it takes to win. You’ll probably agree with me when you get back online, if ever.

There were no other messages detected by my computer’s SETI array this week.

With all of the depressing news coming out of Washington, and everywhere else, it’s hard for me to maintain the Christmas spirit sometimes. What I often need to do is to slow down and take some time to reflect on my blessings. Many in our country and our city have suffered grave economic losses in the past months and do not have a very bright Christmas to look forward to. This is a great time to donate food to pantries or clothing to charities and shelters. You may not be able to afford to give much, but perhaps you have a coat or jacket in good shape that you haven’t worn in years. Or you could shovel an elderly neighbor’s sidewalk. Bake a pie for a shut-in. [If it’s apple, I’ll stay in for it. ;) ] Look around you and you will find a need. Maybe you can help fill it. I believe that it truly is better to give than to receive, because you grow when you give.

If you still have the holiday blues, here’s a Mr. Bean video to cheer you up:

That’s my blog for this week, my dears. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to spend some of it with me. It’s hard to believe that in a little over a week, another Christmas will be here. I hope that we do see some peace on earth.

Remember to send your holiday greetings to

Ho-ho-ho, don’t forget your hat and mittens. Plutonium!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Resistance is Futile

Wife of the Tiger

Caution: Racy Lyrics

A Doggy Christmas Surprise


Climate Change Conference Bad for the Environment

"Just look at how all these people are getting around. They sure aren't using electric or hybrid cars, because only five have been requested for the event. Instead, it looks like a majority of conference participants will be getting around on -- you guessed it -- limousines. Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen's largest limo company, told the Telegraph that during the climate change conference, she'll have 200 vehicles on the road. Her company's daily average is 12.

"Jorgensen told the telegraph that between her and her rivals, she estimates that are going to be more than 1,200 limos on the road. In fact, there has been such a high demand that they've had to drive more vehicles in from hundreds of miles away in neighboring countries such as Germany and Sweden.

"The number of airplanes further compounds the problem. The Telegraph reports that Copenhagen's major airport is expecting 140 extra private jets during its peak period alone. Much like the problem of too few limousines, the airport cannot handle that amount. Some airplanes will have to drop their passengers off and fly to airports in neighboring countries to park, making an extra trip in again later to pick people up."

I heard about this last night from The Daily Show. Reminds me of when Racine's waxies were driving SUVs to meetings to protest WE's coal power plant. Hypocrties condemning others for doing things that they themselves do.

Mr. D.A. so how ya doin?????

Yes, sir, I did see you tailing SER, Fungi, and Orbs at the mall near V.S. Yep, I did!!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drug dealers use child care as front

"Links between day care centers, traffickers common"

"More than a dozen Wisconsin child-care centers that reaped millions of dollars in state subsidies have had close ties to drug-dealing operations, including big-time crime bosses, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.

"The newspaper identified 16 child-care centers with recent connections to drug operations, and the number is likely much higher. Those 16 alone have collected more than $8.5 million in public subsidies since 2006.

"Records show many of those centers have been used to stash and transport drugs, launder dirty cash and provide fake employment for criminals - at taxpayers' expense."

I don't know what to say anymore.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


1. The Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)

2. Forest Spiral - Hundertwasser Building (Darmstadt, Germany)

3. The Torre Galatea Figueres (Spain)

4. Ferdinand Cheval Palace a.k.a Ideal Palace (France)

5. The Basket Building (Ohio, United States)

6. Kansas City Public Library (Missouri, United States)

7. Wonderworks (Orlando, Florida, United States)

8. Habitat 67 (Montreal, Canada)

9. Cubic Houses (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

10. Hang Nga Guesthou se a.k.a Crazy House (Vietnam)

11. The Ufo House (Sanjhih, Taiwan)

12. Nakagin Capsule Tower (Tokyo, Japan)

13. Erwin Wurm: House Attack (Viena, Austria)

14. Wooden Gagster House (Archangelsk, Russia)

15. Ripley's Building (Ontario, Canada)